Gifts for Guns in PG County sees huge turnout after Connecticut shooting

Prince George's County Police officer examines a gun turned in at the Gifts for Guns event in 2011. Photo: WJLA

Prince George’s County Police collected 150 guns, surrendered voluntarily today, at the county’s Gifts for Guns event.

The previously scheduled event took on new meaning for some, just one day after the shooting tragedy at the Sandy Hood Elementary School in Connecticut. Many dropping off their guns said they felt inspired to do so after the massacre which left so many dead in Connecticut.

Cindy Parker, who has owned guns for years, made the decision last night to turn them in today after watching the news yesterday on TV.

“Yesterday was a really sad day,” Parker said today at the event, “Just a horrible incident and in light of the other incidents that have occurred in recent years, early last year in this nation, it really brought to light that guns need to be out of people hands.”

The county accepted all types of guns with no fear of being arrested and no questions asked. The gun owners were given a $100 gift card in exchange.

“I had a couple of pistols which were my fathers,” Cosmo Constanzo, a gun owner from Laurel said today. “They were just in the basement. I saw the advertisement and I figured get some money for Christmas time.”

The extra money, and for some the extra meaning, brought so many people out today that the gift cards didn’t last – the event had to be shut down early.

Maj. Ray Gordon of Prince George’s County Police says for some the shooting might have sparked the increased interest in getting rid of their guns.

“Knowing that there was a weapon used to create such havoc, its’ very sad,” Gordon said of the Connecticut shooting at today’s event, “we hope that by people seeing something like that maybe it could be some incentive for people to get rid of the weapons in their home.”

This year alone there were nearly 160 gun related incidents of violence in Prince George’s County. Maj. Gordon says while there’s no way to know for sure, that hopefully taking some guns off the streets today will help those numbers drop.

Today’s even followed two other events this year, bringing the total to 450 guns collected this year in Prince George’s County.

Elsewhere around the D.C. area today the often controversial and emotionally charged issue of gun control and the right to bear arms seemed to be on everyone’s mind as well.

Tom Harvey and his wife were so horrified by the Connecticut shooting that they set up a sign in front of the White House to call on President Obama for more action on gun control.

“Maybe this will be the little movement that started the avalanche that changes things,” Harvey said.

But just steps away others argued the other side, defending Americans rights to bear arms.

“We can’t legislate evil,” Daniel Clemens, a gun rights advocate argued, “You know it’s saying we need to have gun control is short sided. It’s like saying we need make a smaller spoon to have less fat people.”